“Great show tonight,” Troy complimented us. He handed me the keys; free drinks had disabled him again.
I got us back to Cambridge, sometime after 2 am. Minehan had begged me to let him drive. I knew he didn’t have a license.
“Why do you pursue disaster if you know it will eventually befall you.”
“Maybe it’ll bespring me,” he was drunk enough to believe that remark was funny. Troy refused to let him sleep it off in the Dart’s back seat. He wasn’t about to share. Jack sat in the middle of the front seat, soon sliding into my lap. David ended up in the wheel well, not ready to sleep next to Jack. I was glad he was totally straight. I’d had enough of being blamed for all my friends testing their sexuality on me.
Soon, it was Troy who was draped on both Jack and me as we led him to his dorm room. We held him up as he vomited the Awful Awful Awful before going inside. We led David into our room where he made a beeline for Jack’s bed.
“We’re taking care of everyone tonight,” I complained.
“Right,” Jack mumbled as he rolled over to let me into bed. No one was listening to me.
I dragged Jack and David to mass at St Paul’s on Sunday morning. They slept through most of it. They weren’t the only ones; the church was in an upper class neighborhood of Cambridge. The priest complimented me on my good attendance as we chatted by the front door. I asked him about the choir. Vatican II had been in place for ten years, encouraging parishes to include more music in their services.
“You’re a choir boy then?” he inquired.
“A musician,” I claimed.
“Sure’n you’d like to help out with the choir?”
“Sure, if there is one,” I mimicked his brogue.
“St Paul’s has a choir school for boys ages 10-14. The boys will be excited by your interest.”
I agreed, kicking myself for taking on another long-term project. Up on the third floor of Mower, Jill was up, slightly annoyed we failed to drag her to mass. We all went for breakfast at Grendel’s Den on Winthrop Street.
“Anyone want to help me with the choir at St Paul’s?”
“Are you planning another lampoon?” Jill smiled. “Teaching the boys to bend over to high notes?”
“Jill?” I was taken aback. “We’ll just add music to the singing. We need to give back. It’ll give Jack a chance to do Gregorian Chants on his MOOG.”
She shook her head and grinned.
“Tim’s a saint, ya know,” Jack defended me vigorously.
“Yeah. We noticed that he’s all goodie two shoes.”
“No, really. He got the New York Diocese to start homeless shelters for runaways. He performed a miracle at St Patrick’s. Diamonds burst forth from the crucifix.”
Minehan laughed. “That’s why yer so rich, eh?”
“We didn’t get to keep any. Cardinal Cooke has one he’ll present to the Pope when it comes time to canonize Tim.”
“Best to mend yer ways, Tim. It’s sixty years without sin to qualify for sainthood. Your treatment of the Smithies may have already disqualified ya.”
“What happened at Smith?” Jill was all ears.
“Did you break up with your girlfriends?” Jill needed to know.
“It wasn’t even a date. We met the parents and tried to get them to like us. They turned out to be anti-rock,” Jack explained.
“We may be banned at Smith,” I lamented.
“Well, there’s only one way to deal with setbacks,” David proposed. “Put on another show.”
We spent the morning setting up again on the Mower lawn. Jack nixed getting another keg as it would be cause for the Campus Police to shut us down. Trixie made up flyers touting our new band, ‘The Moody Rudes’ with the title of our hit single ‘Sunday Afternoon’ as the only information except for ‘Mower House, 1 pm.’ By 12;30 people began milling about. Once they found out there was no keg, many just left. The folkies wisely sat far back from where we had set up our gear.
“You should come closer,” I exhorted them. “We sound best when you’re right in front.”
They remained seated.
The 3D girls got all the co-eds on the third floor to pass out black roses, which they called moody blooms. The girls had wigs for us which they styled in 60’s fab four fashion. We wore black and paisley, with turtlenecks and ascots. When we walked out of the dorm, there were several hundred fans. Word of mouth had brought them.
David and I went up to the single mic to greet everyone.
“We had a show last night at Smith,” I brought everyone up-to-date. “It went great but our girlfriends were dragged away by their parents. We’re banned at Smith,” People booed and whistled.
“Well, we didn’t know what to do, so we thought you might like a show, and we can express our sadness about losing our girlfriends.”
Jack played the intro on the MOOG, followed by David and me on both vocals and guitars.
‘Nights in white satin
Never reaching the end
Letters I’ve written
Never meaning to send
Beauty I’ve always missed
With these eyes before
Just what the truth is
I can’t say any more
‘Cause I love you
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you’
(Girls rushed forward, with tears in their eyes. It was all so romantic. We played up our angst.)
‘Gazing at people
some hand in hand
Just what I’m going through
they can’t understand
Some try to tell me
thoughts they cannot defend
Just what you want to be
you will be in the end.’
We held all the girls’ hearts in our hands.
‘And I love you
Yes I love you
Oh how I love you
Oh how I love you.’
Songwriters: JUSTIN HAYWARD
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
The guys in the back were glaring at our pull on their sweethearts’ heart strings. They knew manipulators when they heard them.
I knew how to win over the guys.
“In my last band, our mascot was a black lab named Max. He was a trained pot sniffer, but instead of busting anyone he found holding, we just made them share. I know some of you have weed,” looking at my pot-head friends, “how about sharing?”
We played the CSNY’s ‘Woodstock’ as the joints went around. No Campus Cops in sight yet.
The spirit of the 60’s got the folkies on their feet, if only to catch a joint that was going by – ‘turning into butterflies above our nation.’
We returned to ‘progressive’ English romantic rock and did Procol Harem’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’
‘We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor…
She said, ‘There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see…
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale
And so it was that later’
Songwriters: GARY BROOKER, KEITH REID, MATTHEW FISHER
© T.R.O. INC.
“She’s gone,” I cried. Jack and David patted me on the back as I faux cried crocodile tears. Somehow the tears were running down my face – too much time in Hollywood, I figured, teaching me how to turn on the faucets. I ripped into the intro to Yes’s ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart.
I next decided to do our old ‘Lives’ song.
“This song’s called ‘Life’s Lies.’”
“This is our life,
our pride alive
Its our times
Lost our minds
Stupid rules rule
Demand we act
Just like fools
To be like you.
Look at me, you havta scream.
You think we be freakin’
You gotta be fast to not be seen.
No wonder we’re always sneakin’
“Well, I guess the parents saw through our fake manners and faux charm. But I’m gonna miss that girl.”
Jack did the intro to the Beatles ‘You’re gonna lose that girl.’ David did the vocals, singing to me, like a big brother
‘You’re going to lose that girl,
You’re going to lose that girl.
If you don’t take her out tonight,
She’s going to change her mind,
You need to take her out tonight,
You need to treat her kind’
“But we’ve already said good-bye,” I argued with David, going right into the Moody Blues’ ‘Go Now.’
‘We’ve already said “Goodbye”
Since you gotta go,
oh you’d better
Go now go now, go now (Go now)
Before you see me cry?
I don’t want you to tell me
just what you intend to do now
‘Cause how many times do I have to tell you
darlin’, darlin’ I’m still in love with you now
Whoa oh oh oh’
Songwriters: DAVID J WEISS, DON EDOUARD FAGENSON, RON BANKS
© BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
Jack took over with Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying.’
‘I thought that I was over you
but it’s true, so true
I love you even more than I did before
but darling what can I do
For you don’t love me and I’ll always be
Crying over you, crying over you
Yes, now you’re gone and from this moment on
I’ll be crying, crying, crying, crying
Yeah crying, crying, over you’
Songwriters: CHURCHILL L. KOHLMAN
© Roy Orbison Music Company , Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
David and I joined Jack repeating the chorus over and over. The tears were running down my cheeks. I thought, ‘how cheeky can I get?’
“I’m not giving up,” I swore to David and the crowd. I sang the Moody Blues ‘The Story in Your Eyes.’
‘I’ve been thinking about our fortune
And I’ve decided that we’re really not to blame
For the love that’s deep inside us
now, is still the same
And the sound we make together
Is the music to the story in your eyes’
Songwriters: JUSTIN HAYWARD © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
I looked past the crowd toward Widener Library and saw the Campus Police, watching our performance. Half the crowd was stoned, with a dozen joints going around. It was time to disperse quickly.
“Thank you, Harvard. I needed to get it all out. I’m never giving up.”
I ran off stage with my guitar, telling David, Jill, and Jack to follow me. The crowd was confused. The 3D girls came running after us.
“Please take our equipment down to the boiler room. The cops are about to pounce on everyone. Can we hide out in your room on three?” I asked nicely.
They ran off, happy roadies, to do our bidding. After changing into different clothes, we gathered in 3D and watched the Campus Police arrive in force. Panic among the stoners ensued.
The best strategy was to drop the joint and just walk away. Those who ran were chased down and rounded up. I regretted having told everyone to toke up. Our Sunday concerts in the Yard were over. All I could hope for was something organized by a Harvard approved club. Jack was trembling with fear that his Harvard life was over.
The counter-intuitive move was to call Dad and get his take. He knew how to handle the police.
“Hi, Susan. It’s Tim, your favorite step-child. Is Dad there?”
“He’ll be so glad you called, Tim. We miss you. How’s Harvard?”
“Great. I even have a girlfriend.”
“Wow, how’s Jack taking that?”
“He has one, too. We’re trying to experience normal college life.”
“How’s that working?”
“That’s why I need to talk with Dad. We may be in trouble.”
“I’m glad you’re asking for his help. He’ll be pleased even if he complains.”
“He’s nothing like Max was, but he knows how to get on your Dad’s good side.”
“I need to take lessons.”
“Oh, Tim. I’ll get your dad.”
Dad was actually nice on the phone until I explained about the riot we had caused.
“Don’t you ever learn? Was anyone hurt?” he expected it to be another Skynyrd concert disaster.
“No, we got everyone to leave before the police arrived. A few kids got busted for pot.”
“So you got away with it?”
“Well, that’s why I’m calling. I need your perspective. We were gone when the police came, but I’m sure they’ll find out we organized the concert. What do I tell them?”
“You mean how do you manipulate the situation so you don’t get punished?”
“All the police want to know is who’s responsible and how to stop it from happening again.”
“We were just promoting our band by putting on a good show.”
“They don’t like your band because they think you’re promoting illegal activity.
“Last week they stopped us because we gave away beer. We didn’t do that today.”
“You want my advice?” He proceeded to give it. “Go to the police and explain what happened. Don’t tell them your motives unless they ask why. Be respectful and remorseful that it turned out badly. Don’t lie and definitely don’t try to manipulate the facts.”
I thought for a second. The worst that could happen was I’d be expelled. I pretty much knew that Harvard was not for me, anyway. What the hell.
I told Jack I would take the blame for the unauthorized concert. David wasn’t really a student. Jack was just going along with me. All three of us were attention junkies. There was no need for all of us to be punished, although maybe therapy was necessary.
I walked into the Campus Police office alone.
“Hey, Mick,” I greeted our favorite gate guard.
“We was just talkin’ about youse,” He smiled at me.
“Yeah, this time I’m in trouble during the day.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Cause I’m young? My girlfriend’s parents don’t like me? Students like our band?”
“Well, what is it. The girlfriend? That I can understand.”
“I know you need to talk with me.”
“Hey, kid. We’re not counselors. You screw up, we’re gonna know about it.”
“So how do we play our songs without gettin’ in trouble?”
“You might let us know what you’re planning. We’re not the enemy here.”
“Can we have regular Sunday concerts on the lawn at Mower?”
“Fill out this form. Turn it into the Dean’s office. Then wait for approval. Keep the band in the basement until they approve your request.”
“Whadya want us ta do. Arrest ya for incitin’ a riot?”
“Then beat it. And wear decent underwear if yer goin’ to be naked on the T.”
All the other cops laughed at me, making me laugh, too.
“Say hi to Minehan for me.”
When I got back to 3D, everyone was waiting with bated breath.
“Did we get written up again?” Jack was on pins and needles.
“Naw. He gave me this form to get permission to play in the Yard.”
There was a collective sigh of relief.
“What did they say about me?” Minehan only thought about himself, like all teenagers.
“Mick says hi.”
“I knew he liked me.”
We were off the hook. I called Dad and thanked him. I figured it made up for his screw-up with Joey. I could visualize his smug look. It reminded me of Winston.
We all went to Widener Library and prepared for our upcoming classes. I made sure Minehan didn’t copy my calculus worksheets. He still had all the right answers without showing the work.
“Why don’t you show the steps you took to arrive at your answers.”
“What steps. It’s like music. I think about what the next notes will be way before it’s time to play them and get there without thinking about it.”
“Okay,” I wasn’t going to dispute his ‘music as calculus’ thinking. “You are pretty calculating.”
“I know. I’m impetuous. I just visualize where I wanna end up when I jump into the great unknown.”
“Sounds like wishful thinking to me.”
It was time for his next swim lesson. No droopy drawers this week as he brought regular swim trunks from home. He allowed me to hold him up by his stomach without belly aching that I was molesting him. He even learned to rollover, so he could rest, with my hand in the small of his back.
“No unnecessary exploring, Gaybo,” he warned me.
With occasional rests on his back, he soon was able to complete a full lap of the pool. He was distressed to learn that the Harvard swim requirement was to complete 4 laps with a time limit.
“More fagging off in the pool, I guess,” he complained.
We all went for pizza at ‘Noch’s.’ The girls insisted they each pay their share, instead of Jack picking up the tab. Minehan glared at them for making him pay as well.
“How am I gonna pay my tuition if I gotta pay for pizza as well?”
“How can you possibly pay your own tuition?” Trixie asked.
“I already got $200 set aside from our earnings at the gig.”
“You got paid to play at Smith?”
“Sure. We ain’t slaves, like at the Lampoon.”
”You two get paid as well?” Jill had to know.
“We got $150 each. David also played with the opening act. It was a straight 25% of the bar tab.”
“That why you didn’t want me to come?”
“Jeez, Jill. We weren’t even booked. They put us on and the bar take went up. We got ‘em so riled up they’s throwin’ their beer at us. Sound like fun?”
“No way. Sounds like a freak show. That when yer girlfriends’ parents dragged them away?”
“Yup. Romance wasn’t in the air.”
“After you wrote them that Moody Blues ripoff?”
“The parents weren’t impressed.”
That night we found Troy in his room and asked him to check with Venus about Trudie and Joan.
“I already heard. If they weren’t in college, they’d be grounded. The parents declared you guys dangerous and off-limits.”
“Yeah, we knew that. But what do the girls want?”
“Trudie hates what you did but loves it as well. She’s conflicted. Joan misses Jack but is waiting for Trudie to tell her what to do.”
“That’s good. Can Venus give them a message from us?”
“She promised not to tell you anything. They forgot to tell her not to tell me.”
“Can you tell Venus that we’re dying not knowing what they think. Tell her about the concert we played yesterday. We even did Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ we was so upset.
“They’ll find that romantic. Maybe you’re a one trick pony, your lives are all about the band.”
“Hell no. The band is all about our lives.”
“See what I mean?”
“Yup,” I agreed.
“You missed the game yesterday. We lost to Cornell 9-3. Everybody wondered why there were no girl cheerleaders. The team lacked spark”
“Man, we got blamed for everything this weekend. The riot in the Yard and now the football loss.”
“Get Venus to sneak them out next Saturday and come here. We’ll act like it wasn’t our idea. They liked the party at Fox,” Jack plotted.
“You guys are definitely foxy.”
“Tell Venus she’s a ‘Foxy Lady.’
“Time to turn all this into an article,” Kurt announced. “Any ideas?”
“We can expose all these bullies as typical Harvard male chauvinists,” I suggested.
“That would be an exposé, not a lampoon,” Jill noted.
That opinion gave me pause. “I thought we wanted to expose the misogyny here.”
“We’re not reporting the truth; we point to the obvious by satirizing the truth,” Kurt was agreeing with Jill.
“Okay. We need to make these guys seem silly, not blind idiots.”
“That’s a start,” Kurt agreed.
“Good. I’m not happy being seen as a victim,” Jill declared.
“You’ve given as good as you got,” I praised her.
“Don’t make everyone a hero or a villain. This is not an epic fable,” Kurt warned.
“You want silly? Let Jill be the misogynist and the boys on staff be the victims in her reign of sexual abuse.”
“Yeah, I’m Barbarella of Boston.”
Kurt laughed. “Okay. That’s good. Do a draft, no more than 1000 words on Jill’s reign of terror. And make it funny. Serious is not a word at the Lampoon.”
Kurt called a staff meeting and announced that Jill and I would no longer be doing intern duties as he had us on a special assignment. Looks of concern greeted the announcement, as the worst abusers knew there might be a reckoning coming.
At lunch in commons, we advised Jack and David of our new role at the Lampoon. Jack insisted he be included in the drafting of our first article. David realized he would be the only intern and insisted we include him, even though he had no idea what it was about. I called Kurt and advised him that all four of us were brainstorming and wouldn’t be in that afternoon.
“I’ll expect a draft by tomorrow morning,” he ordered.
We sat in commons going over all the abuses that Jill had suffered and reversing them for males. We came up with a list of changes at the Lampoon:
- Males must wear tight jeans that accent their butts and packages.
- The bathroom is now female-oriented and guys have to sit down to pee. They are required to use excessive toilet paper to dry themselves. Leaving the seat up was cause for termination.
- Female staffers are to be addressed as ‘Yes, my mistress.’
- Males are to be addressed as ‘honey boy, or ‘sweet ass.’
- Males staffers will be topless on Fridays.
- Males staffers are to be subject to hygiene inspection and required to have bikini waxes.
- Tea is to be served instead of coffee in the afternoon.
- Male staffers are required to stay in the dorm when it is that time of the month.
- The Lampoon Editor will be a female for the next 100 years to correct gender inequality.
- Male staffers will be available to service the new editor whenever needed.
- The Ibis on the masthead is replaced by a nesting bird.
- Puck will now be Judy whenever Punch is mentioned.
- Accusing a female of being lesbian for refusing to date a male staffer is subject to the lash.
After writing up the new rules, a short description of the first week of their implementation described the chaos when boys were told to ‘woman up’ if they resisted the changes. Terry was described as terrified of the chubby chasers who stalked him at work. Long lines for the bathroom developed after coffee break and lunch; female staffers were allowed to go to the head of the line in retribution for 100 years of discrimination. Talk about football was banned at the water cooler, replaced by Judy Collins and Carol King records. A comprehensive seminar on women in history was run every day between noon and 12:05 pm. Staffers were required to memorize the list of female U. S. Presidents. Not knowing any was cause for suspension. Male staffers were given nicknames; the most popular were shorty, limp, quick, minuteman, teary, and clueless. It was voted that on Friday all male staffers were to attend sensitivity and self-esteem classes run at Radcliffe. The males asked for escorts to protect them at Radcliffe, after reports of molesters and male haters.
Kurt laughed at the draft, telling us to proceed with an actual article. The first Lampoon issue was scheduled for the weekend of The Game, November 13th. Kurt told us we could use actual caricatures of staffers for the derogatory nicknames. Jack volunteered to do the drawings. David insisted he would too.
“Okay,” Kurt came to a summing up. “Who’s going to be the fall guy with their name on the article?”
Jill was willing, but it seemed unfair after all the harassment she had suffered. David was all too willing, which caused Kurt to suspect he had an ulterior motive – attention addiction. Jack was the only one who didn’t volunteer, still fearful about his Harvard reputation. That left it to me. I figured I’d be expelled by the time it was published and agreed to be the fall guy. Kurt asked me to remain after we were dismissed.
“Tell me about your time in Hollywood. I may have a project for you.”
“You mean the music, the drugs, or the sex?” I laughed.
“Some other time, but now I mean the movies.”
“Oh, well, we were interns on Scorsese’s new movie ‘New York, New York’ and delivered dailies and edited film to several studios. We also set up a meeting for Universal’s Edgar Bronfman with Elton John. Bronfman wants to set up a record label at Universal.”
“Edgar or Edgar Jr,” he asked.
“Junior. He throws his dad’s money around. He was a perfect match for Jack.”
“So Jack was the leader in this adventure?”
“As far as throwing his dad’s name around. We got MGM to invest $6 million in Marty’s musical because his dad’s a partner with Kurt Kirkorian.”
“So Jack’s the money guy?”
“You already know that. I ain’t rich. My dad works in the defense industry.”
“Fine. But who did the selling at MGM?”
“Sounds like you already know.”
“I heard you were leading Bronfman around by his wallet. Someone must’ve had a sales pitch other than where the money came from.”
“Okay. We did an actual song and dance to get the money, as well as selling Leonard Bernstein’s daughter’s song with her dad’s name on it. It’s the title of the musical now.”
“The word is it’s a bomb but Liza comes out smelling sweet because of that one song.”
“Marty’s not happy with us. He thinks we jinx him. His movie on our band never made it past Cannes.”
“So you’re 18 years old and already helped produced two movies?”
“Why are you going to college?”
“I’m in love with Jack. You know that. It ain’t no big secret anymore.”
“Lust in the dust?”
“Yeah, and everywhere else. Ya hate me now?” I could feel he liked me which went against his normally closed-up heart.
“Why? I’m glad you’ve got each other. Obviously it doesn’t bother the girls. They seem to like that you’re threatening to guys.”
“Yeah, it’s a gas. ‘Cept now we‘re threatening to parents.”
“Troy still likes you.”
“’Cause he gets free beer at Rahar’s.”
“We’re worried you don’t want to stick around. That why your name’s on the exposé ?”
“I told ‘em at the interview. I’m here because Jack’s my boyfriend. That hasn’t changed.”
“But it will if you get kicked out.”
“Now y’all sound like Jack.”
“Here’s the deal. I need to send someone to Hollywood on a movie project. Probably gone all semester. You’ll get credit for work-study and all you need to do is pass the finals to get credit for your freshman classes .”
“Ya wants ta split up me and Jack. Y’all’s ‘fraid of gay backlash?”
”Listen, Tim. You need to take a break.”
“Y’alls just old an’ fergets how important love is.”
“Don’t shoot the messenger, Tim. Here’s an opportunity. I need you to do this. I know you won’t drag Jack with you if he wants to be here. We’ll talk some more. Talk it over with Jack. Don’t tell anyone else.”
“Only you can pull this off. I don’t want others to know. They’ll be mad at me if I don’t offer it to them. They’ll feel inadequate for not being trusted to do it.”
“What the hell is so important?”
“It’s a script called ‘Animal House.’ It’s not a Harvard project, but being directed by the National Lampoon.”
“So it’s grown-up shit. They’s all from Harvard anyways.”
“That’s not true. The lead writer’s from Dartmouth. He claims it’s about his frat there. It’s a real soap opera. I read it.”
“So you want me to take it away from him? Can I be a writer?”
“There’s several writers. I need you to spice up what the Dartmouth guy thinks is such a gem. He demands that everything be true to his memory. You can relate and get him into the spirit of making it Hollywood, bigger than life.”
“What does he want? I cain’t be tellin’ him to change what was his life.”
“Your role will be to play the band that parties at the frat. It’s the 60’s. Like your old band, playing frats at U of M.”
“So I get paid?”
“Maybe even bring your band to Hollywood, all expenses paid.”
As I walked back to Mower, I couldn’t get over the raw ambition of taking False Gods to Hollywood. I could see Kurt’s raw manipulation in holding out the carrot of band promotion to get me to do his biding on the project. Did he think I’d be easily controlled once I had wormed my way onto the project? Maybe he didn’t know how much chaos we had caused Scorsese last summer. He seemed to know a lot about my prior projects. This was my chance to prove I was talented, not just a kid acting out pranks and antics. I needed the voice of reason. I even thought I should call Dad, for the second time that Sunday. I needed someone with their own perspective. I called Michael in Miami.
“Hey, Romeo. Married yet?”
“Not yet. It’s worse than marriage. I’m in college and dating a high schooler.”
“Say hi to Jenna. How’s college?”
“Everyone seems clueless.”
“I know what you mean.”
“How’s rooming with Jack? You love birds finally settled into domestic bliss.”
“Hell no. We’ve got a straight roommate and both Jack and I are dating girls.”
“Oh, the horror of it all.”
“Harvard wants me to work on a movie in Hollywood. It means leaving Jack here. I need your advice.”
“You’d drop out.”
“Naw. My classes are dumb. I don’t even go. As long as I pass the finals, I’m good. I’d get paid in Hollywood and get credit for work-study.”
“Sounds like someone wants you to leave Jack. What’s the boy say?”
“I haven’t even told him. I only came here to be with him. They want me to be the music coordinator on the set. My boss at the Lampoon worries I’m about to be kicked out. We’re constantly in trouble here.”
“You’re on the Harvard Lampoon?”
“Yeah. We’re interns. This is a big step up.”
“Well, you’re nothing if not ambitious. Go for it. You and Jack have survived being apart before.”
“Yeah, but this was supposed to be our time to finally be together.”
“Love conquers all. What do you really want?”
Michael was always the sensible one.
“I want it all. And Jack always gets what he wants.”
“Just make him want you to be happy.”
“Sounds like a grand manipulation.”
“Tell him you won’t go because you have to be with him. Then see if he tries to make it work so you get what you really want.”
“I guess. I ain’t a psychologist.”
“Thanks. My girlfriend is in Psych 1. I’ll ask her.”
“Now there’s role reversal.”
I hung up and called Trudie. It was before curfew. She came to the phone after someone yelled for her.
“I’m not supposed to talk with you,” she set up her boundaries.
“Can I just ask yer advice. I have a problem. You’ve always been able to see my faults.”
“Yeah. It was real obvious when you acted like a monkey for my folks.”
“Sorry. I was acting crazy. But this is not about us. I got offered a job working on a Hollywood movie. I don’t know how to tell Jack that I want to leave for several months.”
“Sounds more interesting than your freshman classes.”
“That’s why I got offered it. I never go to class. The editor of the Lampoon thinks I’ll get kicked out if I keep doing as I’ve been.”
“Sounds like he has your best interests at heart.”
“It’s exactly what I want to do. I’m only at Harvard because Jack loves it here.”
“It seems stupid, having to parrot back what the profs lecture. That’s why I need to go crazy on the weekends. We’ve been pulled in by the Campus Police three times.”
“Yeah. Venus told us about your ‘love-sick’ concert today.”
“We have to sing about our lives.”
“Is it real or is it Memorex?”
I laughed. “Maybe a bit of drama thrown in.”
“So? Will you miss me if you go all Hollywood?”
“That mean you still wanna go out?”
“Is this some manipulation to find out if I’m still mad at you?”
“No. We can deal with us once I decide how to deal with Jack.”
“Well, the truth comes out. I’m so pleased to be second fiddle.”
“Please. This is not about us. I wanna go to Hollywood and I wanna be with Jack. I know he won’t wanna leave. Am I stuck in Cambridge?”
“Again, it’s all about communication. You believe he’ll throw a fit without actually asking him. Always the cart before the horse.”
“It’s more like the horse’s ass,” I joked.
“Be serious, Tim. How can you make this decision before you’ve even discussed it with Jack?”
Trudie was my new Dr. Kam.
“I just know he’s going to throw a fit.”
“Afraid to stand up for what you want?”
“What if he insists on dropping out too? It’ll be all my fault for ruining his Harvard career.”
“It’s nice you care about consequences. Do you really want him with you in Hollywood? It seems your boss thinks you need to be separated.”
“Argh. I don’t know what to do.”
“When do you have to decide?”
“Soon but I don’t know exactly when.”
“My advice is that you both need to communicate better. Don’t make decisions assuming what each other is thinking or wants.”
“Thank you, Dr. Trudie, for taking my call.”
“Tell Jack that Joan is pining.”
“Don’t overestimate your charm, mister.”
We both laughed.
“Can we come see you next weekend?” I pushed my luck.
“We’ll see. Just don’t show up unannounced.”
I wondered if she really meant it.
I went looking for the little nerd. He was in Widener Library, preparing for the coming week’s classes. He had a text out and was making notes from the highlights he had made while doing the readings.
“You know the prof will go over this in his lecture,” I kidded him.
“Someone has to do the readings,” he argued.
“Minehan just comes up with the answers in calculus. He claims it’s like reading music. He can hear the right answer. It’s his math as music theory.”
“Dude, he just copies your answers,” Jack contended.
“Well, can you take a break. We need to talk. Let’s go to Grendel’s.”
“A-ooow,” he howled.
We sat in the back after getting coffee.
“I talked with Trudie.”
“I thought we had to wait two days before calling.”
“She says we need to stop making assumptions about each other.”
“Does she not know we’re fucking each other?”
“That doesn’t mean we know what’s going on inside our heads.”
“Just what’s going up our butts and other places.”
“Seriously, she’s pissed we just decided to show up unannounced.”
“Yeah, but I bet they loved it, especially when their parents freaked.”
“She did say Joan is pining for you.”
“How sweet. Sounds like we’re in the clear.”
“It’s not the girls we need to talk about.”
“What? Are you still against Minehan staying with us?”
The boy was clueless.
“I had a long talk with Kurt earlier. He thinks we’re self-destructive.”
“And Minehan isn’t?”
“He’s just a kid, living out his fantasy of college life. Kurt thinks I’m trying to get kicked out.”
“You don’t think you’ll be kicked out too, partner in crime?”
“Jeez, all we do is play our music and get people excited, like at the football game.”
“We’ve got the Dean on our asses, just like that dick AP Spencer at Gables.”
“We toasted his butt,” Jack laughed, forgetting it was because his father was on the school board.
“You know my dad will pull me outta here if we get into more trouble. Your dad will pull strings and you’ll be golden.”
“There’s something you’re not telling me.”
“Kurt offered me a full-time paying position on the Lampoon. He wants me to oversee a National Lampoon movie project about frats at Dartmouth.”
“Wow. Doesn’t he know I was an acting assistant producer for Marty?
“He knows you’re committed to staying in Cambridge.”
“This job is not at Harvard?”
“It’s in Hollywood.”
Jack’s eyes got really big and tears formed on the lids.
“Kurt says we need to be separated before both of us ruin our college careers. I’ll get credit for my freshman classes as long as I pass finals, plus I get work-study credit.”
“You really want to do this?” he looked at me beseechingly.
“Only if we can make it work together.”
“That’s all I want, to be together.”
“Maybe life conspires to keep us apart until we’re older,” I hypothesized.
“When are you going?” tears were running down his face.
“Nothing’s set. I’ll havta go out there to be hired. I still need you to help me pass my courses. I’ll be here for finals and Christmas.” I wiped his tears away. He put on his good face.
“Kurt wants to separate us?”
“He thinks we’re self-destructive.”
“We’ll get through this. When I was in Switzerland and you had closed your heart to me, I never stopped loving you.”
“I’ll always love you, Jack.”
“Look how that worked out for Jace – trapped in the netherworld.”
“That’s exactly what you want, someone permanently straight to keep me straight.”
“Joan is pining for you.”
“How did that happen?”
“Perfect manners. Mummy will be so pleased.”
We went back to Widener and finished our preparation for the week. I’d tell Kurt I can go to Hollywood. That night, Minehan slept up in 3D. We had to store up memories.
Monday morning saw us all eating breakfast together, plotting our week. Jill and I would work out of 3D in Mower on the Lampoon article; Jack and David would attend classes. They promised to work on doodles as caricatures of the staff members we were going to parody. Jack suggested we get a printer to create a deck of cards with the doodles on all the face cards. We’d sell it as 100th year memorabilia, since the Lampoon started in 1876. Then we’d sign names of the staffers as graffiti on the cards and publish it with the article. Minehan was really excited about becoming a cartoonist, thinking his writing was sub-par for Harvard. We told him to show us his doodles as soon as they were done. Jack would do caricatures.
Working alone with Jill on the narrative leading up to the sexual harassment rules, I really wanted to tell her about my Hollywood deal, but I had promised Kurt to only tell Jack. She asked me about the Smithies.
“I called Trudie last night. She’s still mad but we talked it out. Maybe they’ll see us this weekend.”
“Jack use his charm?.”
“No. Actually I called her for advice about Jack. That’s the only reason she’d talk with me.”
“Still fighting about kicking Minehan out? He’s not staying up on 3.”
“No. Trudie has been telling me I make too many assumptions about people, expecting them to do what I want without asking them first.”
“Some new sex position you want to try out?”
“Since you found girls who accept your sexual deviancy, you can’t expect me not to call you on your shit. Someone needs to keep it real.”
“I thought you liked me?” I wheedled.
We left it at that. Later in the day, Minehan organized another swim lesson. This time I was restricted to the deck while the 3D girls held him up in the water. He claimed he felt relaxed knowing they would not molest him. They balked at the mouth-to-mouth training he’d refused to do with me. He made two laps that day, praising his new coaches for getting him past his mental obstacles. I stated he was acting ‘mental.’ David put on a show of ‘mental’ poses. Jack bought everyone pizza at ‘Noch’s’ extolling our PE exercise. He stated he was getting a pot-belly. Minehan called him a ‘pot-headed jelly belly.’ Jack and David passed around their sketches of the Lampoon staff.
They were great, just enough to make the upperclassmen look off-kilter. They did the eyes to perfection; they looked devious and perverted. We discussed which card should be assigned for each staffer. We rejected the Ace of Spades for Kurt as too much like ass kissing on our part. Naturally he became the Queen of Hearts. Fatty Terry was our first skewering; he became the Queen of Farts (Clubs). Troy was easy – King of Spades, our ever reliable ride to Smith. The rest of the face cards were assigned according to the nicknames we had made up – Stubby, Limp, Quick, Minuteman, Teary, Nerdy, Stinky and Clueless. As interns we assigned ourselves to the four knave/jack cards – David to spades (as a black Irishman) , Jill to hearts, Jack to diamonds, and I was clubs (as Mower clubhouse leader). Jack said he’d pay to have a proof set printed. Minehan begged to be the salesman, needing the money for his tuition. The Lampoon was planning to turn the front of the Lampoon Castle into a jack o’lantern, for the Yale game in celebration of a century of lampooning. We got a copy of the proposed display to go on the back of each card.
Jack completed the form for a permit to play in the Yard. When he turned it in, they stated he had to give them 10 days notice, so the date had to be changed to the Saturday morning of the Yale game, the big football game of the year. The lady told him he was crazy. He agreed but insisted we still submit the request. Later we discussed what we would play.
“We should play rah-rah songs to build up student spirit for the game,” Jill suggested.
“Based on your knowledge of football traditions?” I kidded her.
“Well, moody music isn’t very inspiring,” she noted.
“Maybe we can do military and patriotic songs and march everyone into the stadium,” Trixie proposed.
“Let’s do ‘Ballad of a Green Beret’ and see how many people will follow us.
“I’m sick of the Beatles,” Minehan claimed.
“Everyone loves the Beatles,” Jill stated.
“That’s why I hate them. Everyone’s stuck in the 60’s.”
“You’re so strange,” Trixie remarked.
“Ya just noticed?” I laughed.
“Then we should do Stones,” Jack proposed. “They’re the anti-Beatles.”
“Back in 1963. I was 5 then,” Minehan was not moved.
“I don’t get me no satisfaction,” I sang. “I need my blankie and a nap.”
We all agreed he had a point.
“We could do Jonathan Richman. He went to Harvard,” Jack continued to suggest music.
“Yeah. Wear a coat and tie but be hippies. ‘Road Runner, Road Runner’,” David was still a naysayer.
“Let’s just do our own songs,” I suggested.
“What? Old False Gods songs about climbing trees and sneaking around Miami?” David wouldn’t stop being negative.
“No. New songs about being students at Harvard,” I was ready to move on.
“No protest songs,” Jack complained. “We can’t give them an excuse to kick us out.”
“We got my song about the Rat. It just protests faggotry.”
Jack and I glared at him.
“At least that’s about us,” Jill took David’s side.
“Okay. How about David’s phobia about a guy teaching him to swim until five mermaids show up,” I started to get new ideas.
“Yeah, and how Bailey’s is fer girls with little pink tables and chairs.”
“And, ‘Noch’s’ has the best pizza as long as Jack pays,” Minehan crowed.
“And Mick the Yard Guard telling us to get better underwear if’n we’s takin’ the T home in the buff.”
“How everyone throws up all weekend from being drunk and cain’t learn nothin’ all week-long from being hung over.”
“Stop,” yelled Jack. “Stop acting all fake country. We’s at Harvard.”
“How they don’t want girls at Harvard ‘cause they don’t want everyone to know that all the guys are such social retards,” Jill chimed in.
“And the football team, “Trixie added. “Big fat men in tiny trousers.”
“Looks like we have a dozen ideas for new songs,” I realized. “Let’s start with a football song, since we all disdain football.”
“But you love football, Tim,” Jill noted.
“Well, that was Andy, the hick from the sticks in I-o-way.”
“So Andy was the boy who got into Harvard and Tim is the one who wants to get kicked out?”
Jack looked pained.
“I jist cain’t go home agin,” I misquoted Thomas Wolfe.
“So, why mock the team when we’re trying to get people to the game to cheer?” Trixie was confused.
“If them players wants to knock their brains out, we kin at least cheer ‘em on,” I reverted to my Harvard New English.
After our spirited discussion, we settled down and wrote up the first drafts of the seven songs based on our social observations of life in a 300-year-old institution.
The first lines of the football fight song went:
‘Ready. Set. Hup Hup.
One two three four
What are we fighting for
Guts and glory
On the stadium floor’
On Harvard, on the field
Big fat men in short trousers
Give ‘em a pat on the butt
Give ‘em a hand and a rouse
See cheerleaders jump and strut’
We submitted the permit application as the Harvard Sitting Band and listed our purpose as a spirit rally leading up to The Game. Almost immediately we were summoned to the Dean’s Office. Jack was terrified we had been written up again. For someone who had done nothing to gain admission, he was struggling to keep his privilege. As the one who had to prove myself to get in, I believed I could expect some support for my student activities. Jack believed I just didn’t care, as well as not caring what he felt. It was always about him.
Dean Epps had earned a reputation for respecting student rights but also as a stickler for proper procedures.
“What is this Harvard Sitting Band? If you want to form an organization, you have to go through proper channels.”
“It’s just the name of our band,” I explained. “It’s my fault, Dean, not Jack’s”
“That remains to be seen.”
“We applied to the Marching Band to be a spirit section. I had done that at Iowa State last year. We had really inspired their team against Oklahoma.”
“Not without annoying the alumni, according to the local newspaper,” Dean Epps had our records which were more detailed than I realized.
“We hoped Harvard was more excited about spirited music, but the director turned us down.”
“So, the Sitting Band is a joke, meant to tweak the established band.”
“Not really, we started playing guitars in our dorm room, several of the other residents joined in. When we added drums, it was so loud the RA asked us to move to the basement. We planned a party before the BU game and it was moved outside when too many people showed up.”
“Maybe because you provided beer.”
“It was a party. 18’s the drinking age in Massachusetts.”
“We got everyone excited. We even played the Star Spangled Banner and everyone went to the game. The cheerleaders let us lead cheers. The team responded by coming from behind and beating BU. All the girls in Mower were cheerleaders. Even the old alums in the stands said they were impressed with girls at Harvard. They hadn’t yet known about it.”
“So, you want to do it again? Even after last weekend’s commotion?”
“We talked with Campus Police. They told us we needed to get a permit.”
“Permits are for recognized Harvard organizations.”
“We’re just a House band, from Mower. The girls on the third floor are really into it. They’re intimidated by all the weekend drunks. It’s a chance to show they’ve raised standards above drinking and purging.”
“Okay,” Dean Epps smiled. “You boys worry me but at least you make a good case, standing up for the poor defenseless Radcliffe girls.”
“They can do that very well for themselves,” Jack piped up.
“No alcohol. No pot. I’ll approve a one-time concert at 11 am until game time. You boys are very talented. Don’t let me find you have some nefarious scheme behind all this.”
“Just to have all the Mower girls worship us.”
“That sounds more normal than riding the T in your underwear.”
I started to explain how that happened, but Jack pulled me away as Dean Epps waved us out.
We were permitted.
Next we went to the Lampoon castle. Kurt pulled me into his office.
“Have you made up your mind about the work-study?”
“Jack’s okay with it, as long as I get credit and I’ll be back for Spring semester.”
“Okay. I’m sending you to see P J O’Rouke in New York. He’s in charge. He’ll vet you on your music background. Tell him to kiss your ass if he wants some arts degree or other qualifications. If he balks, bring Patti Smith in to remove all his pubic hair. You know her, right?”
“Last time I saw her, we spent the night together.”
“What did Jack say about that?”
“He had to sleep with Robert Maplethorpe. He ended up in bed with Patti and me.”
He shook his head. “So she’ll back you up? PJ can be a pompous ass.”
“And, why must he vet me? If he resists, we’ll play ‘Pissin’ in a River’ in his office.”
“It’s just a formality. They’re trying to sell the magazine and cash in for themselves. He’s exerting his authority. The movie is on the West Coast. I need you to report only to me, like my eyes and ears.”
“Why the cloak and dagger?”
“Harvard gets a licensing fee for the use of the Lampoon name. That will go away when it’s sold. The University is willing to give it up for a price. They don’t care that the National Lampoon will then be fully independent from us. No more direct feeding Harvard Lampoon graduates to the mag. It’s like a child divorcing their parent. That Dartmouth guy taking control of the movie project is a direct result of the pending sale.”
“You want me to sabotage the head script writer to reassert Harvard control of the movie?”
“No, not directly. I want you to show PJ that it’s in their interest to stay connected with us.”
“I don’t understand. You want me to undercut his decisions but convince him he needs us to straighten it out?”
“No. You’re my eyes and ears. I’ll play the bad guy.”
“And being a spy makes me a good guy?”
He looked at me. “I’m not properly making my case. Go out there and do your creative thing to make the movie better. I’ll play the angles to show they need us.”
I liked the cat and mouse interplay but knew I needed this PJ guy on my side as well. Maybe Kurt was playing me. I needed him to back me up if I was going to succeed.
“So, it’s East Coast versus West Coast . That I can play. Being a spy, not so sure.”
“Okay. But keep your eyes open and report back.”
“Do I come in as a heavy hitter?” thinking about using Daddy’s pull like I did with MGM.
“Naw. You’re just a kid with a lot of musical knowledge and ability. Get them coming to you. Be indispensable. To prove that we have value beyond the Lampoon name.”
“I understand. When do I go to New York?”
“I’ll send you right away. Spend a week with the National Lampoon people. Get to know them, for them to trust you.”
“Still a spy, huh?
“When can you go?”
“Next week? Do I get paid?”
“Once they hire you. Do you need a loan?”
“Nah. I’ll stay at Jack’s at the Dakota.”
“Can I stay with your folks next week? The Lampoon’s sending me to the City,” I tried to make it sound casual with Jack.
“So, it starts?” Jack looked sad. “I think they are in Florida now.”
“That’s cool. I’ll stay at the Chelsea. It’s just that I wanted to speak with Daddy.”
“Just call him. It’s not like he’s busy, sitting by the pool and reading the Times.”
I called the next morning, from Kurt’s office. Isabelle answered.
“Hola, Chica. Estoy Tim.”
“Sr. Tim. Como este?”
“Muy bien. et tu?”
“Excelente. Que pasa?”
“Este Sr. Stone en casa?”
“Si. Uno momento.”
“Yes, Tim? How’s Harvard?”
“Jack’s a little neurotic, but he’s getting all A’s.”
“I’m not worried. What can I do for you. It’s nice you feel part of the family. Not a problem with your dad?”
“No. He even gave me good advice this weekend when we got into trouble. I actually listened and learned from him.”
“Do I want to know about trouble?”
“It’s all good. We were playing in Harvard Yard and the Campus police shut us down. Some people were smoking pot.”
“Ah, the Yard. I loved my freshman year there.”
“Were you in Mower, too?”
“Of course. It was the best. What’s it like now.”
“We have Radcliffe girls on the third floor. They’re all our friends. The boys seem retarded.”
“Perhaps ‘socially inept’ is more appropriate. Is Harvard going co-ed?”
“It’s an experiment. Did Jack tell you we’re on the Harvard Lampoon?”
“Yes. I had expected him to try for Hasty Pudding.”
“He wants that as well. Were you in a social club?”
“Porcellian, of course.”
“We got invited there but the upperclassmen rushed the girls we were with. We upped and left. We’re more comfortable with Fox.”
“Yes, of course. Fox is more arty.”
“Our Lampoon editor is there. We’re his interns. He even added one of the ‘Cliffies as an intern at Jack’s suggestion.”
“Well, co-education is coming to Harvard. I doubt Porcellian would be comfortable with you boys if you’re in the vanguard of change.”
“Tell, Jack. He feels they are the top club.”
“My boy, the social climber. Tell him his older brothers were in at Porcellian, for all the good it did them.”
“The MGM people were disparaging of Jack’s older brothers.”
“Not surprised. We used to worry about Jack. He seemed slightly inhibited. Not so since you showed up. We have a hard time keeping up.”
“Don’t worry about him. But there is a wrinkle. I thought I’d ask your business advice. My dad is better on the police advice.”
“Well, how nice that you thought of me.”
“The Lampoon wants me to go to Hollywood and be the music coordinator on a Lampoon movie.”
“You’re dropping out?”
“No. I’ll still finish my freshman classes, just by mail. I’ll get work-study for the job. I’ll get twice the credits. The only hitch is my editor wants me to be his eyes and ears on the set.”
“That’s awkward. You’ll be a spy. Your associates in Hollywood will eventually find out and all those relationships will be tainted.”
“Exactly. My editor says he’ll take the blame but everyone will know where the information came from.”
“What is going on with the Lampoon? I would think they’d be above these sorts of office politics.”
“That’s exactly why I’m calling you. Can you guide me? It’s unknown territory.”
“Of course. Are you still close with Mike Antonio? You may need a lawyer.”
“I’ll call his office. Thanks, good advice.”
“I have heard that there is a bid from a media group to buy out the National Lampoon .”
“That’s what my editor is worried about, losing the pipeline from Harvard to the national magazine.”
“Well, with the national moving into movies and other entertainment, it’s more like a corporate media conglomerate, not just a magazine styled on its Harvard roots.”
“He feels the managing editors will sell out for their own payout and Harvard will just take a payment for use of the name. It’s not about the money for him. Harvard will lose editorial control.”
Daddy laughed. “Jesus, Tim. You sure like sticking your nose into the action. Mergers and acquisitions is a highly specialized banking field. Maybe you need to be taking classes at Harvard Business School. There’s a lot of money to be made in a buyout, like you’re describing.”
“I’m already going to get double credits for this semester. Should I go to business school in the Spring?”
“You need a BA to go, but it may be instructive to write-up a case study on your experiences. Go see Marty Feldstein in the Economics Department. I’ll get you an introduction. He was recently named as one of the outstanding professors under the age of 40. He can tell you about B School case studies. He may change your opinion about Harvard professors.”
“You’ve been talking with Jack about my bad attitude.”
“I think you don’t appreciate Harvard yet.”
“My editor told me I need to get some perspective before they kick me out. He even thinks Jack and I should be apart.”
“What does Jack think?”
“He’s said I can go to LA. He’s been mad when I seem to sabotage his social aspirations at Harvard, like at Porcellian.”
“It may be best in the long run.”
“I really like that we talked,” I praised my putative father-in-law.
“I’ll let you know when to see Feldstein. Don’t be put off that he’s a Republican.”
“All part of your advice to keep an open mind.”
“Call me anytime, Tim. You’re part of the family.”
“Just Dad will do.”
“Okay, Just Dad.” We both laughed.
Next I called Mike Sr. Jay came on the line.
“Long time, amigo.”
“Of course, I only fool around in your dreams.”
“I’m at Harvard now. I’m in so much trouble I may need a lawyer.”
“They catch you smoking pot?”
“Naw. I’ve outgrown that. I’m going to be hired as a music consultant on a movie.”
“A student film?”
“A real Hollywood film. Jack’s dad said I may need legal representation, for me to call Mike.”
“Well, I passed the bar. Entertainment is one of my fields of experience, after shepherding you guys around.”
“Yeah, you shepherded me right into the Everglades.”
“Just a detour on your meteoric rise to fame.”
“Sounds like we’ll be working together, what a team.”
“What about Jack? He working on the film too?”
“They’re separating us after several unfortunate incidents in Harvard Yard.”
“Sounds like you have a new band.”
“I guess I’ll always have a band to play with. We backed up Liza Minnelli and Elton John on shows at the Troubadour.”
“It was in the paper here.”
“We made the news? Jack will be pleased.”
“You can do contracts and negotiate music rights for this movie?”
“Sounds right out of my law school text books.”
“This is great,” I was so happy to be calling him again.
“You want to speak with Mike?”
“Hi, Mike,” I greeted him.
“No longer Mr. Antonio?”
“Well, You work for me again. I just retained Jay to represent me in my new job. I’m being hired as musical consultant on a major movie.”
“I thought you were at Harvard. Michael just talked with you.”
“It’s work-study. I’m on the Lampoon staff.”
“So, it’s a joke.”
“No, its big time. The National Lampoon is being bought out. The Harvard Lampoon is sending me out to Hollywood to help them retain creative control. The Harvard administration just wants a payout on the use of the name. We want to keep the connection to feed Harvard grads to the new company.”
“Tim, you’re not versed in the intricacies of mergers and acquisitions.”
“This is way beyond your experience.”
“I know. That’s why I called Jack’s father. He told me to call you. My editor wants me to be his spy on the negotiations as well as prove Harvard adds creative value to the National Lampoon, not just a prestigious name.”
“Jesus, Tim. This is not high school anymore. Never let yourself be used. What are you getting out of it?”
“Maybe I can get the band signed to be in the movie.”
“Don’t ever commit to anything on a maybe.”
“Well, I meet the National people in New York next week. I’ll tell them I’d never be a spy, too much like a snitch in jail.”
“Let me know how it works out. Anytime you have a question, call Jay. I’ll be available if it blows up.”
“Thanks, Mike. I guess you still do work for me.”
Kurt took his office back once I hung up.
“Still unsure about Hollywood?”
“More unsure about New York. I got good advice from Jack’s dad.”
“The inscrutable Mr. Stone. What did he say?”
“I’m to talk with Professor Feldstein about doing a case study after we’re done with ‘Animal House.’”
“The Econ 10 wunderkind. Why him?”
“He thinks I need to appreciate Harvard more.”
“Well, Feldstein’s very popular. If the National Lampoon thinks you’re doing academic research they may be less suspicious that you’re my spy.”
“The family’s not at the Dakota. I have to stay at the Chelsea in Greenwich Village.”
“Not exactly the Upper West Side.”
“It’ll fit my budget.”
“Oh. I found some money in our budget until you get on salary. You’ll get $50 per diem.”
“When do I go?”
“They expect you on Monday morning.”
“Do I get any spy gear, like a miniature camera?”
On Wednesday I went to see Professor Feldstein in his offices. For a Republican he was enthusiastic and full of energy. I explained my concerns about being part of a plot to derail the buyout of the National Lampoon. We discussed the politics of the deal, noting Harvard’s administration was only concerned with the money they could get for selling the Lampoon name.
“It worries me that rewarding management for accepting a buyout isn’t in the best interests of customers and the other employees.”
“You only make money when you sell something,” I observed.
“That’s very Darwinian. What about the greater good?”
“I thought you were a Republican?”
“You think Republicans only think about profit?”
“I think they worry that their sons will waste all the money they’ve accumulated.”
“Hah. I see why Edgar Stone likes you. How do you know him?”
“His son, Jack, is my roommate.”
“Nice. Been visiting to the Dakota yet?”
“Yeah. We started a band called Dakota, with Leonard Bernstein’s daughter and John Lennon’s son.”
“You’re a musician, too?”
“That’s how I got the gig as music coordinator on the movie.”
“Gig? I love it.” He laughed. “Here’s an outline on the required elements for a business case study, as well as a couple of decent examples. You do a good job and I’ll give you credit for Econ 10.
Somehow I was racking up the Harvard credits. I guess if they were willing to give Minehan credits, they must pass them out freely.
“Any advice on how to be a spy on the buyout.”
“Keep your mouth shut, listen when you’re in the room, and report what you hear without trying to analyze or edit it.”
“That’s pretty specific. Is this something that happens a lot in business?”
“In business, people are careless about information when they trust you. Lose that trust and you may as well look for another job.”
I learned more in thirty minutes with Feldstein than I’d learned in two months of classes. Of course, I never went to class. Jack was my spy.
Friday night we returned to the Ritz. I wondered if it was Jack’s trick to keep us from hitting the Rat. No one complained. As we sipped our cocktails before dining, Jack got up and announced that I was leaving Sunday for a job interview in New York.
“Oh, no,” Jill cried. “You’re dropping out?”
“Au contraire, mon amie. I get credit for work-study, as well as credit for this Fall’s classes, and I get credit for Econ 10 in the Spring if the professor approves the case study I write on the job.”
“That’s not fair. You get credit for the whole year and paid for it.”
“They just want my dad’s money, figuring I was sure to be expelled before Christmas.”
“Did you pull strings, Jack?” Minehan accused him.
Jack burst into tears. “I don’t want him to go,” he cried.
“Oh, Jack. I’ll still be your roommate,” Minehan tried to comfort him.
“And I’ll be here enough to make sure you don’t turn gay,” I warned David.
“So, you’ll still be around?” Jill looked hopeful.
“How can I not miss these beautiful blue eyes?” I smiled at her. She turned bright red. “I’ll tell everyone once I get the job.”
After we had eaten our meal, they all serenaded me with ‘So Long, Farewell,’ from ‘The Sound of Music.’
The performance got a big hand from the other diners. We had built a following for our Friday recitals. As long as we sang Broadway hits.
As we were leaving, a hotel security officer asked us to follow him to the Ritz ballroom. The guards had set up a phonograph and had two boys our age there, looking like Irish Spring Soap commercials.
“We want to bring you boys up to snuff on real Irish step-dancing,” the guard announced.
The Irish boys took us aside. We quickly had our hands to the side and learned how to turn an ankle while hopping to the rhythm. In just a few minutes the boys brought Minehan and the five ‘Cliffies on stage, making it five boys and five girls. The guards manned the phonograph and we were put through our paces for an hour of real Irish step-dancing. No one talked about going to the Rat afterward.
Back at Mower, we told Minehan he had to sleep on the third floor that night. We had a week’s worth of fucking to get through. I was to leave on the train to New York after morning mass.